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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to implement body-camera program

During 2014, questions and controversy related to the use of excessive force by police officers came to a head with the police shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the choke hold death of Eric Garner. As Americans across the country took to the streets to protest, police officials searched for a way to restore the public's faith.

On Jan. 26, Charlotte's City Council approved a measure to spend $7M to purchase body cameras for the 1,400 police officers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. While the CMPD has been piloting the use of body cameras for the last two years, the controversy and anger incited by the deaths of Brown and Garner may have helped convince members of the city's council of the need for body cameras.

Starting in March, police officers will begin training on how to properly use the cameras which will be in full use in September. When discussing the city's decision to implement use of police body cameras, CMPD Police Chief Rodney Monroe relayed that the cameras have resulted in an 80 percent drop in police complaints in nearby Greensboro. Monroe also expressed his hopes that the use of the devices will aid in restoring the public's confidence in the police and help improve the relationship between the public and law enforcement officials.

According to Monroe, certain activities will automatically trigger the body cameras to turn on and record. Once an incident or arrest is recorded, an officer will not have the ability to edit or delete the video. Police officers will, however, have the ability to manually turn the cameras both on and off.

The city will need to take steps to gain state approval to allow individual citizens access to view videos. If granted, such footage may become invaluable evidence in defending against criminal charges.

Source: Charlotte Business Journal, "Charlotte leaders OK $7M for police body cams," Jen Wilson, Jan. 27, 2015

Charlotte Business Journal, "Body cameras proposed for all Charlotte police officers," Erik Spanberg, Jan. 12, 2014

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